PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 17: Nathan Cleary of the Panthers and team mates look dejected after the final Eels try during the round one NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels at Panthers Stadium on March 17, 2019 in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

1. Rabbitohs

It’s only round one but the Bunnies have sent an early message by defeating the reigning premiers 26-16. Adam Reynolds was the master and dictated play with his kicking game in awful conditions. Cody Walker got under the skin of the Roosters senior players and disrupted them. Braidon Burns won his battle while the forwards outmuscled their cross-town rivals. There is a lot to like about this Bunnies outfit, none more-so than Cam Murray though. An absolute weapon, this kid is set for a monster season.

2. Warriors

What a performance. What a win! The Warriors absolutely played the Bulldogs off the park in extremely difficult circumstances. A quick shout out to the club for throwing the gates open in a show of unity. They deserved that crowd and that performance. How good was young Adam Keighran on debut? RTS picked up exactly where he left off in his Dally M medal-winning season. The Warriors’ big men up front laid a platform for their speedy outside backs to roll on. Blake Green was outstanding, as was young Roache. Amazing all around.

3. Cowboys

The new look Cowboys send an early message through two of their word class superstars. Jason Taumalolo ran for over 300 metres and destroyed literally everyone in his path. I was shocked when he moved wide but Paul Green was spot on the mark. Michael Morgan showed that life after JT will be just fine. He dictated play and ultimately took the game by the collar when it was there to be won. Another game played in difficult circumstances. The Cowboys big men aren’t going to lose many battles this season. They certainly won this one.

4. Wests Tigers

I know the response to this will be “they only beat the Sea Eagles..” and although true, the Tigers were just about as dominant as any side this weekend. A bombed try aside their line was never really tested. They were strong in defence, dominant in the middle and took their opportunities. Robbie Farah turned back the clock with two tries at the club’s spiritual home. Matterson looks like a brilliant pick up. Big win considering they lost Mbye late.

5. Storm

All the questions were around how the Storm would cope without their superstar fullback. Turns out they have another superstar fullback to slip seamlessly in. Jahrome Hughes had an absolute blinder. Cam Munster may be the game’s next mega star. He was again brilliant. The Storm won the middle battle against a hugely talked up Broncos pack and their spine did the rest. We expect no less from the purple juggernaut. Cam Smith looks 25. I don’t know how he does it.

6. Eels

The Eels got the chocolates against their local rivals on a terrible Sunday afternoon in horror conditions. Michael Jennings scored a double capping off a headline-making game that also saw him sin-binned for a high shot. The Eels youngsters in Brown and Mahoney played well beyond their years. Tim Mannah was huge off the bench after Nathan Brown went down injured. Gutherson looked good while Moses was in everything. Ferguson provided a huge boost to the club in his Eels debut.

7. Raiders

The Raiders begin the season with two competition points, something we should have been able to say last season if not for a late fade out. The Green machine forward pack look FAR better this season at the back end. They finished the game with the same intensity as they started it. When’s the last time you could say that about Canberra? Wighton looked good in the halves. Leilua scored a great try after almost butchering the opportunity. Cotric is a weapon out wide. Perhaps we’ve underrated this Raiders side?

8. Knights

The Knights are off to the start they wanted and the result their performance warranted. It’s hard to believe they weren’t 16-20 up following their first-half dominance but ultimately an Edrick Lee intercept delivered two valuable competition points. Lee was the best on ground after hammering Josh Dugan at will. David Klemmer was immense and looks a real pack leader. Pearce controlled the game well in a difficult wind. A gritty, tough win against a 2018 top four side, good start.

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 15: Shaun Kenny-Dowall of the Newcastle Knights celebrates a try with team mate David Klemmer of the Newcastle Knights during round one NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on March 15, 2019 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

9. Roosters

The premiers won’t be too worried but they’ll be angry at dropping points to their closest rivals. The result, in round one, won’t raise any alarm bells but the fact that the Bunnies were able to upset so many of the Roosters stars will have Trent Robinson at the whiteboard. I have no idea why Crichton rode the bench for so many minutes, perhaps he’s fighting injury? Tedesco was kept quiet while the Roosters star halves were barely sighted. The tri-colours lost in round one last year too and well, they were ok.

10. Broncos

The Broncos will be upset they lost the battle in the middle but they showed enough to not be too worried otherwise. I don’t like Gillett in the middle, surely that changes. Roberts going off injured was a shame. Jack Bird had an indifferent night but will be better for the hit out. Pangai Junior looked good from the bench, surely he starts at 13 this week. The Broncos halves couldn’t produce behind a beaten pack. Oates is a monster out wide.

11. Dragons

The Dragons would have been happy to be out on the field after that off-season but they won’t be happy with their round one performance. I absolutely hate the five into four set up they’re running with and social media seemed to agree. Their big men simply couldn’t handle Jason Taumalolo. Many other sides will suffer the same fate but the Dragons looked soft in the middle. Widdop at fullback won’t last. He needs to be in the halves.

12. Panthers

The Panthers would have expected far better in round one but ultimately dropped two points at home to their rivals the Eels. Their two tries came against twelve men. You could argue they were lucky to have the one-man advantage. The Panthers’ back three were dire and won’t play that badly again this season. Up front, the Panthers didn’t get the roll on many, myself included, expected. Maloney was in penalty mode. Not much to write home about here.

13. Sharks

The new look Sharks played a lot like their 2018 selves, full of dropped ball and penalties. Newcastle kept Shaun Johnson quiet while the Sharks big men lost the battle. Gallen went backwards while Woods and Prior made little impact. Nikora was good on debut. Matt Moylan looked dangerous every time he touched the ball although he should never field a kick-off. Josh Dugan had a nightmare. Chad Townsend created a four on two yet found Edrick Lee on the chest.

14. Sea Eagles

Manly can’t welcome back Tommy Turbo quickly enough after an awful performance against the Tigers. Brendon Elliot blew an absolute sitter and from there the Eagles never really threatened. DCE played a lone hand but didn’t have his best game. Manly’s forwards were solid but their backline didn’t go with them. I don’t want to sink the boot too much too early but Manly need a break out star or this will be a long season.

15. Titans

The Titans failed to trouble the scorers in round one in horror conditions. They lost Ash Taylor the day before the game and lost Tyrone Roberts early on. Their star forward pack didn’t stand up against a very good Raiders pack while Brimson struggled as the main playmaker. It’s tough to rate a side who lost both halves but the Titans didn’t offer much at home. Michael Gordon will play better games this year.

16. Bulldogs

Saturday afternoon was everything that Dogs fans had worried about. Their forwards were dominated, their outside backs were spectators and their halves were awful. Lewis won’t play that badly again. Foran looked fit but looks a step behind. Hard to be too critical after their forwards were smashed up front. There weren’t a lot of positives to come out of this game.

17 COMMENTS

    • That was nothing Woody, this week you’ve got to face the Manly FG team, and given how their largely reserve grade team gave your largely FG team a RL lesson, it can’t be looking too flash for you this week.
      Of course that may have been said with a tad, just a tad, of sarcasm.
      That aside Woody, the Bunnies had you covered, irrespective of the weather, but it’s only 1 game in a long season.

      • The Roosters have a long history of losing in the rain. It’s practically in the clubs DNA. It’s got me baffled why they don’t do frills training on a wet field with an old leather Kookaburra footy with soap on it to practice ball handling skills for occasions like last Friday night.

        Don’t get me wrong Soufffths deserved the win but they did not give the League world a big look at us we are the new premiership favourite displays. The Roosters couldn’t hold the ball and best them selves with a shocking completion rate of about 60%. No team can win with that stat. If we get a dry field on Sunday then look out Manly.

      • The Roosters have a long history of losing in the rain. It’s practically in the clubs DNA. It’s got me baffled why they don’t do frills training on a wet field with an old leather Kookaburra footy with soap on it to practice ball handling skills for occasions like last Friday night.

        Don’t get me wrong Soufffths deserved the win but they did not give the League world a big look at us we are the new premiership favourite displays. The Roosters couldn’t hold the ball and beat them selves with a shocking completion rate of about 60%. No team can win with that stat. If we get a dry field on Sunday then look out Manly.

        • “lololol”, or did it occur to you that coming from “a (very long term) supporter of the perennial Wooden Spooners”, I (we) might just have some experience identifying “Spoon” potential”.
          That said, I think the Dogs will save you this year, but if you think you’ve got a chance against the Roosters, well “lololol”.

  1. You read it here first. Pearce will be the Blues half this season. Cleary was pathetic. Highly overrated player in the Jack Bird category

    • I think Fittler will stick with Cleary, at least for another series. Not because he is the best half NSW have, but because he will be looking to give him a chance to make the Blues 7 his. I still honestly think last year Fittler sent Cleary out with instructions to tackle and pass, let Maloney run the team. He was there to get the experience, and hopefully benefit from it for future years.
      Don’t get me wrong, i agree that Cleary is overrated (although I don’t like that tag as it is not his fault, it is the media who pump him up), but I think Fittler will stick with him.

  2. As much as it hurts to admit, but my mate WoodChook is right…..my mighty Eassttthhhhsss are so useless in the rain, its an unfair advantage to get our pretty boy faces wet or covered in mud…..hence why I will be giving millions to the NRL to build a roof over every ground so us Eastern Suburbs cafe late sippers wont get muddy rain in our hot cappucionos……if only we had the spirit and heart of our neighbours, the Pride of the League…..and with this climate change affect on the Australian weather, I fear more heavy downpours, our season could be literally washed away……..

  3. Correct the extreme weather conditions are a problem. But you got the Pride of the League way out of wack by assuming that tag for soufffffths rabito’s.

    The League look at Soufffths as the dirt of the League, hence them trying to exterminate the smelly ol rabbits by booting them out of our wonderful game at the turn of the 21st century. On their pathetic return from a two years out of the comp they picked up 3 spoons in 4 yrs. and lingered out of the eight until Russell purchased you clowns 2000 dollar suits and a comp not even playing in your own district. That comp was won by a team that represented the western suburbs rabbit playing a stone throw from Lidcome. AHAHAHAHAH

    • Surely you dont beleive the sh1t you dribble ? It’s for a laugh ayy?
      Surely someone does not have their head that far up their a$$ they think it smells good .

      • Obviously you do punk, Souffths got booted out for two years and they play in the Western Suburbs. From the Olympic Stadium you can drive your car to Lidcombe Oval the old Magpies ground in four minutes.

        Get your head out of the “S” bend and have a look at the facts.💪🐔👍

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